For its pride, state firms up SC review plea
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Gujarat's State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) on Thursday "unanimously" decided to file a review petition against the Supreme Court judgment on translocation of Asiatic lions to Madhya Pradesh and provide fresh arguments against fears of a large fire or epidemic killing off the last wild population of the endangered sub-species by saying several rivers in the Gir forest separate the prides there and total annihilation "will not happen". The Gir Protected Area is a catchment area for a total of seven rivers.
"The judgment has expressed fears that a large forest fire or epidemic may wipe off the population of Asiatic Lions in Gir forest, but that will not happen because we have several rivers flowing through the forest that divides the population. So a forest fire will not touch all the populations, and the same goes in case of an epidemic too," Lavkumar Khachar, the SBWL's senior-most member, told The Indian Express when asked what fresh arguments will be made when the review petition is filed.
Khachar and Forest Minister Ganpat Vasava addressed journalists immediately after the board meeting chaired by Chief Minister Narendra Modi finished and said the review petition would likely be filed together by the government and conservation organisations active in the Gir region. State Wildlife Warden C N Pandey said the decision to file a review petition was "unanimous and there was no dissent".
While addressing the media, Vasava and Khachar repeated concerns that the lion's future new home, Kuno Palpur Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, is "unsafe" for the Asiatic lions because of poaching cases in the past and that the Asiatic lions are safe in Gujarat where locals contribute to conservation efforts.
The SBWL had told the SC earlier that "the issue of giving or not giving lions to Kuno is not an issue of conflict between states, but it is a collective Indian cultural approach in the interest of long-term conservation of lions as part of our family.... [and] that Asiatic lion being a 'family member' is beyond and higher than the 'scientific reasoning'."